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This is how students look at trying new experiences in food and leisure

Marco Louters

Last update: March 27th, 2022 | Read time: 14 minutes


Marco Louters

Last update: March 27th, 2022
Read time: 14 minutes

Over the period from 2018 to early 2021, I spoke to about 400 students, in different student cities throughout the Netherlands. About 80% of these students stated that trying out new experiences in food and leisure are important to them.

I am sure the percentage would have been lower if I had spoken to all students in the Netherlands. Nevertheless, it is inescapable: students like to try new things in their free time.

However, let’s analyze this further.


1. Gen Z: the students of today

2. Four experience types

3. Finding new experiences in practice

4. Barriers and obstacles

5. Afterword

1. Gen Z: the students of today

There is only a small group of Millennials (1980 – 1995) left in the universities of today. While many people still think of generation Y when they say “young people”, the schools are now almost exclusively filled with Gen Z (1995 – 2012); the generation after the Millennials.

This is a huge development in the market. A new generation brings with it new values; new insights and ideas, a new way of doing things.

One of these values – which we had already identified in the introduction – is trying out new experiences. But it’s not just new experiences. Experiences in general are already important, new or not.

This was also already the case with Millennials. With this group there was also already talk of the development that increasingly a higher value is given to experiences than to things; stuff. This trend in values continues with generation Z.

While trying out new experiences in food and leisure is considered important, this is of course underlined and lived differently in practice.

2. Four experience types

One student almost never grabs a terrace. Another goes out to dinner about twice a month and drinks a beer in town once a week. Yet another drinks a coffee four times a week, goes out to dinner at least once a week and goes out with friends every two weeks. Oh, and two of the three go to the movies six times a month.

I’ve tried to group these differences together and map them out a bit, to create a general – by and large – model. In the process of organizing them, I came up with four types:

    • Satisficers;
    • Enjoyers;
    • Explorers;
    • Adventurers.

These experience types are based on students in the mode of trying out new experiences in food and leisure in their own environment; mostly the city of the university.

The value that students in these groups place on new experiences may be different on vacation or while traveling.


The four types could be laid out on a line, which represents the degree of importance of new experiences; from absolutely not important (left) to extremely important (right).

Each type, of course, consists of individuals. An individual in a given type might be more on the left side or more on the right side of their respective group. Think of it as a thermometer.


Let’s examine type by type further.

Good to remember though, it varies from person to person in which leisure domain new experiences are important. Some people think it fine to always go to the same pub, but look for variety in lunchrooms. Another thinks it fine to go to the same lunchrooms, but wants to try different pubs. Yet another wants to experience new restaurants and activities. This can vary greatly.


Satisficers (~20%)

This is a group that places little to no value on trying out new experiences; “Why would I sit on another terrace if I know it’s fine here too?”

They often have a number of standard restaurants, cafes and pubs when they go into town, or are taken to new places by others.

The majority of this group does not go into town very often, if at all. They often meet up with friends at home, with the possible exception of going out (to the pub). However, this group may meanwhile go to the cinema very regularly.

Student A says: “What I have now is good enough.”

Student B says: “Our group of friends never actually goes out to town.”


Enjoyers (~60%)

The Enjoyers are the largest group of the four. They like to take on new experiences and find this important. Some more than others.

Enjoyers go into town regularly.

Despite the fact that they like to do new things (and actually do this from time to time), they often end up at familiar places.

Student C says: “We often meet up in the city and then we’ll just see what we’re going to do.”


Explorers (~17%)

Explorers go into town with the intention of doing something new. Trying new things is important to them; “I actually always go to new places or order different dishes.”

In groups, these are often the initiators who take the rest to a new lunchroom or new activity they have discovered.

They do a relatively large amount of research online for new experiences, follow blogs and Instagram accounts, have tried different apps, and sometimes keep a list on their mobile phone of things they still want to do.

Because they go out to town fairly often, they are starting to get to the point where it becomes difficult to find new experiences. They are past the standard offering and are now mainly looking for the hidden gems in their area.


Adventurers (~3%)

The Adventurers are a step farther than the Explorers. They are always looking for the new and unknown, and prefer to avoid the standard places.

They are very active in the search for hidden gems. We could describe this as their hobby.

Some Adventurers have taken fate into their own hands and have started their own blog or Instagram account to find and promote new places and activities.

3. Finding new experiences in practice

The reality is… a great many of us love to try new things. And yet it is often the case that we end up with the old familiar, especially for the Enjoyers. In a quantitative study with about 140 students, 57.4% said they really like to try new experiences, but somehow still don’t get around to it.

What causes this?

Partly because of the way we come into contact with new experiences. For example, we unintentionally come across something in our daily commute that we would like to try, but then simply try to remember it. And that memorizing doesn’t always work.

There are however quite a few students (mostly women) who keep track of things they still would like to do or places they would like to go, in the form of a list, mostly in notes on their phone, but occasionally also as a physical list.

But the vast majority will purely try to remember it, perhaps with the exception of the Satisficers.

We’ll dive deep into the barriers and obstacles in chapter 4, but let’s start here by looking at how students seek out new experiences (intended) – or spontaneously encounter them (unintended).



    • Noticing in our daily commute
    • In conversation with others
    • By advertising or news
    • Social media



    • Social media
    • Google Maps
    • Google Search
    • Apps and websites in food & leisure


Most of the points are pretty self-explanatory, but it is interesting to look a little deeper into how students intentionally look for new experiences.

Social Media

Social media is the type of platform where both happen. This is where students both intentionally look for new experiences and – during the daily boredom scrolling – sometimes unintentionally come into contact with them, for example through a post or story of a friend who is out for dinner somewhere.

Or they are looking back at a friends’ timeline to see where they had been again. Or they do a specific search on a hashtag (#), such as #foodrotterdam. Or they scroll through events on Facebook to see if there is something happening they would like.

Mainly Instagram and Facebook.

In recent years, TikTok has also increased in popularity. This platform was not mentioned at the time of the study.



When looking for something in the immediate area, Google Maps remains a useful tool. Maps keeps it well organized with a map and additional information. For example, students use one of the specified search terms, such as Restaurants, or type [coffee] into the search bar.


The standard Google – Google Search – remains a good alternative. Students type something in the famous search box and see what pops up, such as [lunchroom Breda], [best vega restaurant Utrecht] or [top 10 lunchrooms Groningen]. The results can then go in any direction… a blog post, a Facebook page, Google Maps, or a news article.

All search terms mentioned so far in this blog post came directly from conversations with students.

Apps and websites in food & leisure

There are a lot of apps and websites available – also in specific niches – to inspire and help people find something fun to do.

I don’t (yet) have a very clear picture in mind of which of the four experience types have adopted which platforms and ways of searching, but a general rule of thumb seems to be that the further to the right on the line, the more the less common platforms are used; the smaller and less well known apps and websites.

Satisficers basically never engage in intended search activities.

4. Barriers and obstacles

Finally, I was curious to see what students are up against when looking for new experiences. And why do they often end up with the old familiar anyway? All the barriers and obstacles mentioned further can be summarized in one general problem:


Wanting to try new things, but often ending up at the already known places.


Hardly anyone always feels the need to try something new. Of course, it is also common enough that we have a specific thing in mind and simply want to do that (even among Adventurers). Time, company, and mood are among the factors that contribute to this.

Yet, as we now know, many want to put a certain percentage of their activities into something new. And often students wouldn’t mind increasing that percentage a little; from 5% to 10%, or from 15% to 50%.

What barriers lie in the way of achieving that percentage?

    • Comfort zone
    • Afraid to make the wrong choice
    • Not being able to recall what we had in mind earlier
    • Ideas in groups are often lost with time
    • Lack of an easy way to find new experiences in the city
    • Choice Paradox
    • Lack in many apps and websites

Comfort zone

Stepping into a new venue for the first time is akin to stepping over a barrier. For some this is a small step, for others a slightly higher one.

It requires a higher alertness and brings up questions that need to be answered. Most questions are unconscious. What is the culture here? Can I just sit down? What type of people come here? Am I even supposed to be here? Do I feel comfortable here?

For the most part, these questions don’t have to be answered at the old familiar place anymore. “It’s just easier to go to the default.” Comfort zone = ease.

Afraid to make the wrong choice

A new series of question marks. What if it’s too expensive? What if it’s not good? What if it turns out I’ve wasted my time and money? As is widely known, many students have a feeling of little money available and that they need to make informed choices.

Personally, I would add that in groups there can also be a social pressure involved in the decision. It is much safer to choose something where you know what to expect. What if you are the one who wanted to try this, while the whole experience was bad? What if you have doubts about whether your groupmates would like this? There is a bit of reputation involved. However, this did not come up in the interviews (though it was not specifically asked about yet either).

Not being able to recall what we had in mind earlier

“What was the name of that place again that I still wanted to go to?” Not being able to remember, at the moment of need, the activity that was previously in mind. Not everyone keeps lists that can be pulled out at any time.

This is also where availability heuristics come into play. Our brain prefers to choose the shortest route. With the thought, “Where shall we go for dinner?”, we immediately think of places that are easy to recall and are at the forefront of our memory. Often these are the familiar restaurants or where we have been before, not long ago.

Ideas in groups are often lost with time

It is not always easy to organize and actually do things with a larger group. The smaller, the easier. Ideas in groups are often lost with time.

Lack of an easy way to find new experiences in the city

Although there are many apps and websites available to help people find restaurants and activities, there are still quite a few students who miss an easy way to find new experiences in their city. Explorers and Adventurers in particular struggle with this, but some of the Enjoyers recognize themselves in this problem as well.

Sometimes there is simply too much on offer, creating a paradox of choice. Sometimes the abundance makes it difficult to find things other than the standard; where are the hidden gems?

Choice paradox

The more choices available, the greater the likelihood of choice stress and doubt. When the choice made turns out not to be the right one, feelings of regret and failure arise.

Not everyone is equally sensitive to this. There is occasionally talk of Maximizers and Satisficers. Perhaps you recognize the second group. 😉

Maximizers always strive for the only best option. Satisficers usually choose the good-enough strategy.

Lack in many apps and websites

Despite a vast array of apps and websites, from general to specific niches, each platform often shows the same things; the same listings and the same information.

In additon, those listings are often very general and vague. What is shown is often just a company name, a monument, a forest, a park, or a town square. Something concrete is missing. Something that inspires and can be executed – actionable. You could almost say that there is often no real call to action.

In closing, some students shared that they disliked that not all information is available in one place. They often have to go and do more research themselves in other places.

Student D concludes: “Ultimately, we kind of have to figure it all out ourselves.”

5. Afterword

With the startup Questlog, we try to reduce and lower many of the above mentioned barriers and obstacles. Sometimes all it takes is a little extra encouragement to step out a comfort zone. Sometimes the options just need to be presented in a different way to generate enthusiasm and a call to action.

The research will continue, along with the creation of Questlog. It would be nice to be able to further specify the four groups (also used internally). In future blogs I will describe how we will try to tackle each obstacle. I will post these blogs on Questlog’s business website.

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